NZ shows on the rise as “local content”

The TEN Network was forced to screen more New Zealand content in 2011 to meet local content quotas because Neighbours did not attract any points by screening on ELEVEN.

Media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority has released its latest quota findings for 2011 and found that Seven, Nine and TEN all passed the minimum of 55 per cent Australian content quota in 2011.

Seven Network licensees (in the five mainland state capital cities) averaged around 66%. It screened around 168 hrs of first release Aussie drama.
Nine Network licensees (in the three metropolitan markets of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) also averaged around 66%. It screened around 80 hours of first release Aussie drama.
Network Ten licensees averaged around 62%. It screened around 80 hours of first release Aussie drama (NB: multichannel content does not attract quota points).

Compared to previous years the numbers were quite high, but networks are screening more and more content from New Zealand because it passes as ‘local content’ under a Trade Agreement.

ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said, “However, the ACMA notes that the amount of New Zealand drama programming claimed as first release Australian drama quota has been increasing. The Australia and New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement requires that New Zealand television programs are treated as Australian programs, and are treated accordingly by the ACMA.”

With Neighbours not counting for any points, TEN screened 33.3% NZ Drama, a rise from 17.6% in 2010.

NZ titles included Go Girls, The Almighty Johnsons, and Outrageous Fortune. It also had 6 first run Australian movies.

Nine played 10.1% NZ drama, the series Nothing Trivial and 5 first run Aussie movies.

Seven screened 0% NZ drama and 1 first run local film. But Seven did screen nearly 35% NZ first-release documentaries with such titles as Border Patrol, Dog Patrol, Coastwatch, Drug Bust, Nurses, SCU: Serious Crash Unit, and Wild Vets.

Nine and TEN both had 0% NZ first-release documentaries.

There was also an increase in the number of first release miniseries. But networks are also claiming shows as mini-series to attract higher points including Offspring, Wild Boys, Rush, Sea Patrol -the latter two were ‘Series’ a year earlier with a larger output. With shorter runs in 2011 they were classified as mini-series, attracting higher points per hour.

With one station exception, all three networks met no more than the exact 130 hours required of them in Children’s Television (further suggesting that without regulation they probably wouldn’t go there at all). TEN also screened NZ kid’s series Paradise Cafe for first-release content points.

However Channel Seven Brisbane failed to meet its preschool program quota in 2011, broadcasting 129.5 hours, 30 minutes short of the quota due to a scheduling error. It will broadcast an additional 30 minutes of preschool programs in 2012 to make up for the shortfall.

You can read the full report here.

21 Comments:

  1. I have no issue with NZ drama being shown here. As others have said, they make some quality shows! The Almighty Johnsons is brilliant, and Shortland Street, while not part of the quota, is exactly what a great soap should be – the perfect blend of romance, drama and humour. It reminds me of Neighbours pre-2008.

    This shouldn’t come at a cost to the Australian industry though. Luckily we still have Foxtel, SBS and the ABC to support quality Australian drama.

  2. I don’t understand people that are against local content quotas. Like David said, no one is forcing you to watch. Also, it’s very easy to watch overseas content by other means, so it’s not like local quotas are stopping anyone watching o/s content.

    Like it or not, killing off a local industry can’t be good for anyone.

  3. Outrageous Fortune, Go Girls, Almighty Johnsons & Nothing Trivial are four of my favourite shoes and I say more of these and any other great NZ gems. I think generally the Kiwis make superior TV and I can’t get enough of it. I say to those who criticise the shows to give them a go. I will admit a lot of it is a little quirky and a bit offbeat, but these qualities make them more endearing in my opinion.

  4. But that’s the argument for any protected industry – as a society we benefit from jobs in protected textile factories etc. And it’s true to some extent but the benefits are as you admit virtually all captured by the workers in the industry rather than society as a whole and the costs (crap TV) are borne by all of us just as we all put up with the costs of overpriced and unreliable cars in the bad old days of automotive protection. As you are in the industry naturally you see it as benefiting society but I’m not sure why the interests of film and TV luvvies should be seen as more representative of society than say farmers or manufacturing workers, neither of whom get any meaningful protection and (quite properly) have to deliver world class product or go out of business.

    I’m open to the idea that there may be some cultural value in home grown TV exposing an audience to local ideas and developing local culture but a purely locational driven model like local content is going to give us lots of Home and Away and very little (struggles unsuccessfully to think of world class Australian TV show) so is a very inefficient way of doing it.

    • This is partly the reason why we have more NZ content. TV industry isn’t protected in this sense. It’s in the Trade Agreement with NZ along with other industries. Also, be aware that while you are talking about government protectionism and Home and Away… it has no government funding from Screen Australia. Love it or loathe it, it has stood up on its own two legs since 1988. If that isn’t driven by market / audience demand then I don’t know what is.

  5. Good. The local content rules are absurd in the age of the internet in any case and, as they only care about location not quality, result in a sheltered workshop delivering mediocre results. Good luck to any station that is adhering to the local content rules by bringing in NZ stuff. I think we should scrap the whole lot and if people want to watch Australian TV it will be delivered, if not then it goes. At least this way there will be some motivaiton to deliver quality – how precisely as a society do we benefit from having “Home and Away” on our screens?

    But local content rules or not, unless Australian TV starts to deliver quality, interntional productions will massively increase market share in the next decade or so as FTA TV goes the way of AM radio, becoming a niche market for the over 50s.

    • As a society we benefit from H&A because of the enormous work it supplies week in week out, year in year out to hundreds of people. I would have thought this was obvious. TV offers choice. Nobody is forcing anybody to watch?

  6. Just have to say that Outrageous Fortune was a brilliant show. Buit I gave up watching on TV as it was in different timeslots and on and off air. I bought the DVD’s from NZ and enjoyed them at my own leisure. I don’t have an issue with some kiwi content but perhaps a restriction even if it is part of the free trade agreement!

  7. timmydownawell

    What a beat up. If Ten just swapped Go Girls etc to Eleven, and brought Neighbours back to Ten noone would be complaining… but as long as all these shows are airing on FTA what difference does it make what channel they are on? Wouldn’t it be better to write an article about how the current quota system is completely absurd and should be either scrapped or spread more thinly but equally across all FTA commercial channels/multichannels?

  8. Ten met one third of its quota requirements by screening drama commissioned and made for the NZ market – Double last year’s amount? That is a complete disgrace, Good to see them being rewarded with the results they deserve. Epic fail.
    Agree that Australian drama is part of a winning schedule – and agree that Nine just cannot commission successful drama. It’s going from UB:Bad to UB:Worse.

  9. David your use of the word “forced” is completely wrong. Ten knew that in its shift to 11 that Neighbours would not get Australian drama quota points. Ten pays very little for Neighbours as it is owned by Fremantle Media which makes most of its money from foreign sales. The fact is Ten looked to the cheapest route possible to get quota and bought New Zealand drama which is almost wholly funded by the New Zealand taxpayer. This strategy to buy cheap has not worked for Ten as its ratings steadily decline. If it is ever to recover then a good quality Australian drama slate will be one of the key components. Seven understands and achieves this. Nine knows it but seems to have little talent for commissing drama, outside of the Underbelly franchise. And ACMA us able to discourage the New Zealand route by increasing the minimum licence fees that commercial free to airs must pay for drama so they equal what they are paying for local dramas.

  10. This is ridiculous. 11 gets no points for “Neighbours” but TEN gets points for NZ-made drivel. And we make another series of a show, but with fewer episodes, so we can call it a mini-series and get more points.
    ACMA calls it “Australian content quota” but it’s made in NZ? Huh? Did I miss something? When did we invade NZ? Or did they invade us? Travelling thru Bondi I think I know the answer (LOL). We hardly speak the same language.
    Now we see Fairfax newspapers being edited in NZ.

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